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Does 10,000 hour rule apply to PV Sindhu’s Success

In the book “Outliers”, Malcom Gladwell quoted that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. He based his premise based on the research done by a team of psychologists in Berlin, Germany who studied violin students. Specifically, they studied their practice habits in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. All of the subjects were asked this question: “Over the course of your entire career, ever since you first picked up the violin, how many hours have you practiced?”. 

All of the violinists had begun playing at roughly five years of age with similar practice times. However, at age eight, practice times began to diverge. By age twenty, the top or elite performers averaged more than 10,000 hours of practice each, while the less able performers had only 4,000 hours of practice. The elite had more than double the practice hours of the less capable performers. Malcom Gladwell then searched for success stories across divergent fields and found the same underlying theme amongst all i.e., minimum clocking of 10,000 of practice.

Even though there are many critics against the 10,000 hour rule and they point that if somebody clocked 10,000 hours by age of 20 then he/she should have crossed 20,000 hours by the age of 30 but still unable to maintain the peak performance. Keeping aside naysayers, in this article, we try to understand whether 10,000 hour rule apply to PV Sindhu’s success in Rio Olympics.

10,000 Hour Rule and PV Sindhu

Sindhu started practising badminton at an young age of 8. By the age 10, she was regular at the Gopichand Badminton academy. She won the 5th Servo All India ranking championship in doubles for under 10 years category, singles title at the Ambuja Cement badminton tournament and under-14 team gold medal at the 51st National School Games in India, apart from several other national level tournaments. 

The 21 year old player made India proud at international level when she won Asia Youth Under 19 Championship and also stunned the London 2012 Olympics gold medallist Li Xuerui of China in Li Ning China Masters Super Series tournament. In January this year, Sindhu again made news by winning Malaysia Masters Grand Prix Gold women’s single title.

Behind the “overnight success” of Sindhu, more than 10 years of hard work and determination is there. 

Even if we assume the number of practicing hours increased to conservative 6 hours per day, 250 days a year then Sindhu would have clocked 1,500 hours of intense practice each year post the age of 18. By combining all the hours of practice from age 10, we can easily say that she could have clocked 10,000 hours of practise. In broader terms, we have to agree with Malcom Gladwell and the research done on violinists that the rule do apply to sportswomen like Sindhu in achieving the unimaginable. Where the 10,000 rule falls short is in estimating what will happen afterwards. Fingers Crossed.